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Science  10 May 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5570, pp. 1025
DOI: 10.1126/science.296.5570.1025b

In our research article “Fusion-competent vaccines: Broad neutralization of primary isolates of HIV” (1), we reported that immunogens comprising formaldehyde-fixed cocultures of cells expressing the human immunodeficieny virus-1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein and those expressing CD4 and CCR5 receptors were able to elicit, in CD4- and CCR5-transgenic mice, antibodies capable of potent neutralization. Recently, we have uncovered a specific cytotoxic effect of these complex sera that accounts for a major fraction of that reported neutralization. The cytotoxicity resulted in a significant undercount in the numbers of infected foci in our assay and, thus, the appearance of virus neutralization. This effect was variable in fusion-competent sera and, importantly, was notably reduced in sera from mice immunized with numerous control immunogens. The basis for the specific cytotoxic effect is unknown. This unappreciated cytotoxicity significantly reduces both the potency and the breadth of primary virus neutralization. Therefore, we retract our published results.

We continue our efforts to understand the conformational changes in the envelope glycoprotein that mediate virus binding and entry, in the belief that this information will inform HIV vaccine development. We regret our error and the premature hopes that our publication engendered.


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